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Is the comma usage in a and b the same in terms of them both being examples of appositives? In the sense the usage in b) feels like like extra information or peripheral whereas a) is spoken with or without the name Mary.


a) I’m sorry to tell you, Mary, but your name was not essential; that is why it was surrounded with commas.


b) The film tells the story of a housewife, Laura ,who becomes romantically involved with a doctor, Alec ,at a railway station tea shop around the outbreak of the Second World War.



https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/appositives

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Whether (a) is an "appositive" seems to depend on the fine distinction of whether it gives information about which "you" is meant, or is a separate parenthetical term of address. In most cases I think it would be the latter.

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panda blue 483I’m sorry to tell you, Mary, but your name was not essential ...

This is not an appositive. It's called direct address.

https://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2guides/guides/wrtps/index-eng.html?lang=eng&lettr=indx_catlog_c&page=9J8lRcRhJ-78.html

CJ

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[a] I’m sorry to tell you, Mary, but your name was not essential.

The film tells the story of a housewife, Laura, who becomes romantically involved with a doctor ...


In both cases, the comma marks the noun phrase that follows it as being a supplement, so the question is: Are "Mary" and "Laura" supplementary appositives?

A crucial property of supplementary apposition is that the appositive noun phrase can be substituted for the whole supplementation.

[2] is fine: we can say The film tells the story of Laura, who becomes romantically involved with a doctor ... Here, "Laura" is clearly a supplementary appositive NP.

But in [1] we can't say *I’m sorry to tell Mary, but your name was not essential

That rules out "Mary" as being an appositive noun phrase. Perhaps "Mary" is best analysed here as being in vocative function.

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CalifJimThis is not an appositive.

In most cases I agree, but in my opinion it could be appositive if, let's say, the speaker is talking to a roomful of people, and "Mary" identifies which "you" is meant, which would otherwise be uncertain. The intonation might help to distinguish these cases.

 BillJ's reply was promoted to an answer.
BillJBut in [1] we can't say *I’m sorry to tell Mary, but your name was not essential

I think this is just a secondary quirk. After all, "You, Mary, have a non-essential name" has the identical two possible interpretations of "Mary", and yet in this case we can say "Mary has a non-essential name", grammatically at least. (The fact that we don't normally say this when addressing someone is a separate feature of English usage.)

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https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/appositives?page=1

You can’t say, “Vocational counselor, Jane Smith, has agreed to help me get a job” because in this case the appositive, her name, is essential information. No commas needed. “Vocational counselor Jane Smith” is one job title, as is Inspector Jacques Clouseau of “Pink Panther” fame.


Would you agree with this explanation? If the writer spoke about vocational councillor Jane Smith again in the same passage of writing then it can be written with commas can it not? I think there is a difference between US/UK usage with these sorts of examples, with UK newspapers, for instance, using the commas to emphasise the name, and US viewing the comma usage as essential non essential, with a persons job or title being considered part of the name in these cases.

panda blue 483You can’t say, “Vocational counselor, Jane Smith, has agreed to help me get a job” because in this case the appositive, her name, is essential information. No commas needed. “Vocational counselor Jane Smith” is one job title, as is Inspector Jacques Clouseau of “Pink Panther” fame.
Would you agree with this explanation?

Yes, the commas are incorrect. This would be correct: "The vocational counselor, Jane Smith, has ...". Many people do not understand how to use commas in these kinds of situations, and it is common to see errors such as the one quoted.

panda blue 483I think there is a difference between US/UK usage with these sorts of examples,

My answer is from a BrE perspective. If there are differences in AmE then an American editor will have to clarify that. I have to say, though, that I see no logic that would allow the quoted sentence to be correct.

panda blue 483newspapers

Remember that articles can be dropped in headlinese, which may confuse the picture.

panda blue 483“Vocational counselor Jane Smith” is one job title

Then "Counselor" should probably have a capital.

panda blue 483You can’t say, “Vocational counselor, Jane Smith, has agreed to help me get a job”

You can certainly SAY that. As far as I know, nobody can hear commas. However, you can't WRITE it. (AmE) Emotion: smile

panda blue 483Would you agree with this explanation?

Yes.

panda blue 483If the writer spoke about vocational councillor counselor Jane Smith again in the same passage of writing then it can be written with commas can it not?

This seems to be a hypothetical that will never happen. In the rare case that it does, it should be written without commas every time it occurs.

panda blue 483I think there is a difference between US/UK usage

I doubt it.

CJ

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